I am a Syrian refugee who escaped a war!

In my country I am considered to have broken the law by doing this. I live in Romania and need to visit the embassy to renew my Syrian passport, as they officially announced that they are renewing passports even for people who broke the law.

Can I be arrested for breaking Syrian law inside the embassy of Syria in Romania, and maybe later sent back to Syria?

  • 4
    Before you get a Syrian passport, you should consider whether doing so would jeopardize your refugee status. This article explains why this might happen in Canada; the same principles of international law apply in Romania, and Romania could apply them similarly: yourlegalrights.on.ca/common-question/…
    – phoog
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 18:51

3 Answers 3


The embassy is not technically the sovereign territory of the sending country; it remains the sovereign territory of the receiving country, although it does enjoy special protections from interference from the receiving country.

The sending country could do anything they like to you once you enter the embassy - including hanging you for treason - as long as they keep you in the embassy. This may be illegal according to the receiving country's laws - hence illegal in actual fact, since the receiving country's laws apply in theory - but the receiving country would be legally prevented from interfering with the sending country's actions if they take place in the embassy.

What if the sending country does something the receiving country disagrees with? Well, that's sort of where the law stops and politics begins. The countries can negotiate, diplomats can be expelled and embassies closed, sanctions can be imposed and wars declared. This category of thing also includes the receiving country reneging on its agreement and violating the protections of the embassy and/or its diplomats, which would create an international incident and may lead to some or all of the above.

In summary: - The Syrian embassy would be violating the law of the receiving country to punish you in such a way as to break the laws of the receiving country for having broken Syrian law while you are visiting an embassy abroad - The receiving country would be violating its diplomatic and political agreements not to interfere in the embassy if it decided to interfere with the embassy if the embassy chose to broke the law of the receiving country by punishing you - If the sending country break's the receiving country's laws in a way the receiving country cares about, or if the receiving country violates the immunity of the embassy in a way the sending country cares about, there will be an international incident which will be resolved by political processes. Odds are if it gets to this stage you're not in great shape.


The people inside the embassy can break Romanian laws, and the Romanian police can't do anything about it, because it is inside the embassy.

It would be very hard for them to send you back to Syria. As soon as you are outside the embassy, you are back under Romanian law, and that law would protect you. So they would have to take you, and then smuggle you outside the country without anyone in Romania noticing.

  • I think this answer is way too simplistic and may confuse some people.
    – Viktor
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 19:34
  • I think this answer is written in simple terms that make it easy to understand.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 14:13
  • But what if they hang him for treason inside the embassy? For that matter, Romanian law can protect him only if the law-breakers get caught. What if they put him in the trunk of a car and drive away? Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 21:46
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    @MichaelHardy: In principle, they could put him in a diplomatic bag, which would be inviolate against Romanian search, and leave the country with it. This has actually been tried but the Nigerians in that case botched the paperwork, so that the crate containing the abductee wasn't actually protected as a diplomatic bag, and was legally opened by the British authorities. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 18:56

They are not supposed to do that. If you were a terrorist they could turn you over to the local police and file for extradition, but simply disagreeing with their government or dodging the draft is not sufficient.

The embassy is generally protected against search by the locals, as are their diplomatic bags (which can be the size of dumpsters despite the name "bag", and vehicles, and the employees have diplomatic immunity (so if they killed you the worst that can happen to them is to be ordered out of the country), so who is going to stop them?

But if the local authorities suspect that they might do this, the minute they try to take you outside the embassy grounds, the local authorities would stop them. That is why Julian Assange is still inside the Uraguay embassy and hasn't snuck out and gone to Uraguay.

I do not think you will have a problem. But my advice is to bring a friend who will wait outside. If you don't leave within a reasonable length of time, have them call the police.

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